Friday, October 2, 2009

Pierre Poussin

There are some pieces of furniture you never expect to think twice about because their function overrides their form. So, when you come across a line that looks like it’s inspired by Swiss cheese, you have to think twice about that notion.

With pieces that include tables, trays, benches and boxes, Pierre Poussin creates a series that melds a variety of elements in a harmonious fashion.

To quote the designer/artist, these pieces are based on “abstract interpretations of cellular division and molecular movement... Mitosis fuses art and science. These laser-cut [and powder-coated steel] pieces serve as studies of positive and negative space, as well as experimentations of light and shadow.”

And, most important, they’re beautiful to look at.

For more information, visit

Friday, September 4, 2009

Berczy Park

Nestled between Front and Wellington Streets and situated behind the Flatiron Building, Berczy Park is a respite for many passersby. With a large fountain being the focal point, it welcomes people to wet their hands in the water.

A series of benches around the fountain allows those to enjoy the splashing sounds drown out any bustling traffic in the area, while the trees offer enough shade to sit underneath them.

Located in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, the neighbourhood is surrounded by buildings which don't graze the sky, making it feel cozier. Also, the area features restaurants, shopping and cultural institutions (i.e. two major theatres just steps away).

Berczy Park: an escape from the downtown while conveniently located in the middle of the city.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bar One

It seems every restaurant in the city has a few pasta dishes on its menu, but very few of them can actually be considered authentically Italian. Nonna’s recipes have no say in most of these kitchens.

So, it comes as a surprise when there is a restaurant that produces its fare in an unpretentious way: Bar One. Located on Queen Street West, the laid back offerings seem to permeate through the air, the service and the overall environment of the establishment.

Putting the interior design to the side (clean and fresh as it is, with light woods, a long bar on one side of the restaurant and banquettes on the other), people come here for the food.

With plenty of pastas, crispy pizzas and fresh fish on the menu, there is a bit of something for everyone. But this isn’t a traditional Italian restaurant, so there aren’t some plates (meatballs, anyone?) as an option.

Still, the friendly service is always at the call of the patrons and they are never afraid to offer suggestions for the timid and tentative foodies.

And of course, the price is an added incentive to make a reservation.

Sit back, relax, have a drink (or an espresso). Nonna would be proud.

For more information, visit 924 Queen Street West (Toronto, Ontario), call 416-535-1655, or

Friday, July 10, 2009

Urban Mode

Sometimes it's worth going out of the way to find something that's not available anywhere else. This is true with Urban Mode, a retail concept that has been tackling small space ideas since 1977 - before the condo boom.

Although the store is located off a main street in the city, inside the converted garage is an edited selection of modern, small-scale furnishings is perfectly showcased in the open and airy space that is the approximate size/layout of a downtown condo.

Many of the pieces are convertible: a sectional that morphs into a queen-size bed, an ottoman that doubles as a storage box, and a table that can extend to serve a large group of (hungry) dinner guests. There are a variety of finishes available (from a light ash to the requisite dark espresso), and the fabric choices stay as close to neutral as possible.

But, it's not all about furniture. Urban Mode is also well-known for its selection of accessories. There are several sources of lighting (table lamps, hanging fixtures), vinyl floor coverings, and a large selection of Umbra products, second only to the Umbra Concept Store on John Street.

When the weather cooperates, the garage doors open up and the store's colourful home and garden accessories are trotted out onto the pavement.

There are so many things to whet the appetite of those who feel the need to dress up their dwelling that it's impossible not to get hungry for more. Sometimes, you just have to look for it.

For more information, visit 145 Temcumseth Street (Toronto, Ontario), or

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Over at the muzi tea shop, it's all about matcha! matcha! matcha! The story begins in 2001 when two students from Queens School of Business came up with a business plan for their 4th year thesis. That plan eventually became a reality in the form of Infuze, a tea store nestled in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The store itself has won awards for its interior design.

Bringing over matcha tea from Japan, Infuze became a local phenomenon. Matcha is a high end green tea ground into a fine, emerald-green powder, then whisked with water to create a unique and healthy beverage. Some of the benefits of matcha include: raises energy, elevates mood, calms nerves, 70x the antioxidants of orange juice and 9x the beta-carotene of spinach.

With its sights set on expanding into the rest of Canada and even the U.S. market, Infuze changed its brand name in 2005 to muzi, which stands for "made under zen influence." What's so special about this store that serves premium, fresh brewed loose leaf teas? Don't expect to find any teabags, for one. And if you're looking for a coffee, you best be on your way.

If you're in Vancouver, and find yourself caught in the rain, drop by muzi and grab yourself a cup of their Immunity tea, which is a blend of matcha, lemon, and honey - the perfect medicine to ward off pesky colds. In the summertime, if you're looking to cool down, muzi brings out their seasonal iced teas and lemonades, complete with floating flower petals!

For more information, visit

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fire On The East Side

There are a few restaurants that combine a level of sophistication with an element of comfort upon entering their doors. And if they do, the price points don’t reflect the quality of the food being served.

Fire on the East Side offers southern inspired cooking with a global flair, caring hospitality and comfortable surroundings, and manages to offer exceptional value and delicious meals for brunch, lunch and dinner.

The seasonal menu (led by chef Laura Petracca) combines a Southern-inspired soul, with fresh ingredients. Jambalaya (smoked turkey, chorizo, sausage, shrimp, onion, peppers, Creole-style tomato sauce), Louisiana Crab Cakes (with smoked jalapeno aioli), and Stuffed Blackened Chicken (cilantro, chipolte, jalapeno, havarti/seasonal vegetables) are favorites.

To top it off is a comprehensive wine list and drink specials during the week (don’t miss their martini night).

Fire on the East Side is a sophisticated, yet comfortable, dining space that accommodates anyone – from dinner for two to up to 450 people at their event studio.

For more information, visit 6 Gloucester Street (Toronto, Ontario), or

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


There are only so many Canadian design icons that are easily identified upon first glance. Some of them are original (the Mountie, Tim Hortons coffee), while others are inspired by the land of a winter that lasts six months.

Made of reused hockey sticks, stainless steel hardware, and rare-earth magnets, the Schtick is a new Canadian icon of design (albeit, one based on a national pastime). It’s not only fun, but functional. While it hangs from the ceiling, it can hold up to 11 kilos on its ‘hooks’ that swoop to the sides.

A side project of Stephen Lindsay, urbanproduct is a Toronto-based firm that transforms and re-purposes everyday objects for the home including living, bedroom and kitchen.

With a philosophy of functionality, affordability and an ecological awareness, the designs begin as a concept which leads to a high quality, unique product – all done with a strictly quirky, Canadian twist.

For more information, visit

Friday, February 6, 2009

Suite 88

Valentine’s is just around the corner, and it’s basically an excuse to go eat chocolate. If you happen to be in Montreal, why not head down to La Rue de St. Denis to check out a fabulous little chocolatier called Suite 88. Here you’ll find Montreal’s “first ever chocolate lounge and boutique.”

One review of this upscale chocolate house likens it to being the “Tiffany’s of chocolates.” It’s true; upon entering, visitors are greeted with glass cases of different styles of chocolate. From their mini tableaux, chocolates adorned with gorgeous artwork drawn on them, to their chocolate domes and a plentiful variety of chocolate bars.

Their flavours include green tea chocolate, Grand Marnier, Absolut Mandarin, chilli cayenne, thyme, paprika, and early grey, just to name a few. Not only were there bars, but they also have “shooters”: chocolates that you bite the top off of, and then shoot back the alcohol that resides inside!

A trip made on a chilly spring day can be met with their trademark Cayenne Hot Chocolate, a Mayan-inspired hot chocolate laced with cayenne pepper. The chocolate satisfies one’s sweet tooth, while the pepper burns its way down the drinker’s throat right into his or her belly - the perfect way to warm up on a cold day in the city!

For more information, visit

Friday, January 30, 2009

Brothers Dressler

Twin brothers, Jason and Lars Dressler, have always shared an interest in building and have been working together since 2003 on custom-designed furniture, unique projects, batch productions, and one-off pieces.

Approaching design as engineers and craftsmen, the brothers focus on sustainable processes and materials to bring their work to life. Their efforts result in works which evoke a sense of harmony between the natural and industrial worlds.

What stands out amongst their several pieces (which include tables, benches, etc.) is their onedge series: a line which uses plywood on its edge to create form, structure, and comfort.

The cantilevered design of the onedge rocker offers slight flex and movement. The onedge lounge (now in its fifth generation), is comprised of repeated elements that are bolted together without the use of adhesives. Designed for relaxation, the cantilevered base offers flexibility and bounce for added comfort.

Both designs are available with or without arms, while the lounge can be accompanied by an ottoman that can also be used on its side as a table or stool.

Due to their environmentally-friendly mandate, any excess materials from their onedge series is transformed into cutlets and bracelets.

For more information, visit

Friday, January 23, 2009

Phonofone II

Constructed entirely from ceramic, the Phonofone II is clever piece of applied science, a beautiful icon of nostalgia, and a twist on personal listening devices.

Through passive amplification, these unique pieces instantly transform any personal music player and earbuds into a sculptural audio console. Upon connecting active earphones to the Phonofone II, the music instantly transforms into a warm, rich, and resonant sound.

Without the use of external power or batteries, the Phonofone II inventively exploits the virtues of horn acoustics to boost the audio output of standard earphones to up to 55 decibles (or roughly the maximum volume of laptop speakers).

And, to ensure the Phonofone II is a piece of audible art, each piece is signed and contains a serial edition number.

For more information, visit

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Greta Constantine

Jersey is a popular weave of fabric, with its versatility seen in shirts to shorts. But, it takes a special kind talent to whip it into something that allows the wearer feel calm, cool and confident.

Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong are the men behind Greta Constantine - a sexy and glamourous line for women who have a taste for designs that accentuate and flatter the body.

Established in 2005, Wong's draping and design expertise, paired with Pickersgill's knowledge of fashion forecasting was a collaborative partnership since the start. Their first presentation of sensual bathing suits on models (both female and male) slinking around, left the audience wanting more. Since that moment, they haven't stopped giving their fans more of the same.

From short shirts, to dresses, to evening gowns, season after season they manage to show a variety of styles that are versatile and suitable for almost every body type. Whether lounging around by the pool, or going out to a gala event, Greta Constantine proves that it doesn't matter what kind of material is used, but how it's used.

For more information, visit

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Jessica Lertvilai

There are a million different ways to tell or show someone you love them. Sadly, very few of them are original. There are requisite flowers, chocolates, diamonds and doo-dads. Been there, done that.

Is there anyone who can come up with a new way of loving someone else? Yes, there is.

Artist Jessica Lertvilai has come up with a vase that combines the essence of words with that of language in a completely new and novel fashion. Using earthenware, she has designed the “Love Is Blind” vase – a vessel that contains a love message transcribed into Braille on the side. The faint and delicate texture is just waiting to be touched, and the hidden meaning is a little secret between two lovers.

You can bring flowers home, but make sure to keep this vessel on hand for an extra special – and romantic – touch.

For more information, visit